Alfa SUV off to a bright start

Alfa Romeo’s entry into the compact SUV segment is off to a positive start.

I’m over electric vehicles, monster utes and sleek SUVs. They all have their place – these days highly prominent – in the automotive pantheon, but range anxiety, truck-style fossil fuel pollution, or squeezing into the third row of a seven-seater . . . poof!

I’ve had ’em.

All is not lost, however. There are all-rounders out there that fit the bill of what is expected, without going over the top. One such creature is the Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid SUV. Named after one of Italy’s highest mountain passes Alfa says the compact five-seater encapsulates the organic curvatures, bends and lines found in nature.

And Alfa’s first foray into the so-called C SUV segment, one of the most competitive in the automobile market, needs something to stop potential buyers in their tracks.

There’s plenty of Alfa essence – power and driving precision – to attract attention.

It is available in two trim levels – Ti and Veloce – which arrived in Australian priced from $49,900 and $56,400 respectively, making it a rival for the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus UX and Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. The Tonale Plug-In Hybrid Q4 joined the team late last year in a highly specified Veloce trim offered from $77,500.

Two options include the Technology Pack, for $2500, which takes the Ti up to

Veloce safety standard and Lusso Pack, at $4500, the latter adding seat upgrades, heated steering wheel and 14-speaker 465 W Harman/Kardon audio system.


Sourced from the Turismo Internazionale (hence the Ti) has traditionally been

identified with the most exclusive, elegant and comfortable Alfas. Signature features include the V Scudetto grille, offset rego plate and 18-inch diamond cut five-circle spoke wheels, echoing the classic Alfa Romeo.

Conversely, the present is to the fore with full LED Matrix headlamps, topped off with wave-pattern daytime running lights, which, as red lights are repeated at the rear, flanking the hands-free power liftback.


Front seats have a wide range of adjustment and offer good visibility all round.

However, tall occupants soon put rear leg room at a premium, but generally the cabin is spacious and comfortable. Perfect for pottering around town with two up front.

Boot space is a usable 500 litres, which can be ‘pumped’ to 1550 litres with second row backs folded. A space-saver spare finds a home under the floor.


Infotainment is accessible via a 10.25-inch touchscreen, incorporating embedded satellite navigation, mounted in the central dashboard. Images are clear and quick to call up. Unlike many of its ilk the screen is shaded well from bright light.

Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are on tap, while Alfa Connected Services enables control of a range of functions via an app. Centre console storage includes a wireless charging station. Also standard features are digital radio, voice command, USB-A and USB-C inputs, plus steering wheel controls.


The 118-kW turbocharged engine plus mild hybrid technology enables pure electric drive and regenerative braking, stop / start operation, plus added boost to petrol power.

Paired with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and 48 V 15 kW / 55 Nm electric motor make it possible for the 1.5 litre petrol engine to propel the wheels even when the internal combustion power is turned off.

The transmission enables the start-off and travel in electric mode at low speeds and when parking or cruising. The result is the performance of a petrol engine but with fuel consumption of a diesel motor.


All Tonale variants have earned a five-star ANCAP rating at 2022 standards. Passive safety features include dual front, side chest and head protecting airbags as standard across the range.

Active safety is covered by adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, intelligent speed assist, traffic sign recognition, front and rear parking sensors and rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines.


With keyless entry, getting underway presented a few problems, the main, how to start the engine. An extended search finally came good: the start / stop button was attached to the steering wheel rim. Stupid boy!

Alfa’s mild hybrid electric system can drive the wheels alone up to 40 km/h, so the slow stuff can be done as a full electric vehicle before the petrol motor chimes in.

The 1.5 litre variable-geometry turbocharged unit handles the 1491kg of the Tonale Ti as well as can be expected under the Natural drive mode. Expect the Tonale to average premium petrol consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres over a range of driving conditions.

Advanced Efficiency is the money saving mode, with sporty performance sacrificed at the altar of economy. The dual clutch here showed its characteristic choppy changes. Time to wind up the Alfa to its zenith in Dynamic mode. Gear shifts were at their snappiest delivering a satisfyingly sporty driving experience.

A 12.3-inch digital cluster is located directly in front of the driver, while those wanting to get their hands on the outsize aluminium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel will need to step up to the Veloce variant.

Ride is a not-uncomfortable experience on the 18-inch wheels with chubby rubber.


While not exactly causing the hairs on the back of the neck to stand up – I’ll leave that to the Veloce – the Tonale Ti could be for many what they always hoped for in an Alfa – a handsome model (tick), a sporty driving experience (tick) and technological team leader (tick).


Looks: 9/10

Performance: 7/10

Safety: 7/10

Thirst: 6/10

Practicality: 7/10

Comfort: 6/10

Tech: 8/10

Value: 7/10